Want to manage your own website?
That's great news. Managing your own site has lots of benefits including:
- Confidence that the right tasks have been done regularly,
- Keeping you more in touch with your website and how it's performing,
- Not needing to pay for someone else to do it for you.
But at the same token, if you're not an IT technician it can be daunting knowing where to start.
Below I've listed six different tasks that should be essential parts of your regular WordPress maintenance plan.
Your WordPress Maintenance Essentials
A Daily Backup
Keeping a backup of your website files and your WordPress database (two separate but linked sets of files) is essential. The ability to revert to a saved copy of your website is essential in case your website is ever a) hacked, b) something has broken, c) your website host has stopped operating, or d) any number of other reasons why your website could fail.
Your backup plan should include the following parts:
- A daily backup of your WordPress database and/or website files and copies of older versions dating back at least 30 days
- Copies of your backup on at least two separate locations, and neither on the server where your website is hosted.
- An easy ability to restore your website if/when needed.
Options could include backing up your site to Dropbox or other cloud storage, using a 3rd party tool like UpdraftPlus, keeping a local copy (your own computer), using a backup agency, or any combination of the above.
Managing WordPress Core Updates
WordPress is a fantastic platform. That's my frank opinion, but the fact that around 26% of the world's websites run on WordPress suggests that lots of other people think so to. Unfortunately, because it is so popular it has also become a fond target for hackers, malware and other uglies.
For example, in February 2017 the internet was abuzz with reports of widespread hacking of WordPress sites (around 1.5 million websites hacked within two weeks). In this instance WordPress quietly released a security update (from 4.7.1 to 4.7.2) that "plugged the hole" that hackers were using. WordPress waited a week to disclose the vulnerability to ensure that millions of websites could deploy the update before more hackers were made aware of the issue.
This is why it's important for you or someone else to be running WordPress updates as soon as they are available. They will look something like this in your WordPress dashboard.
In the same vein all your Plugins should typically be updated as soon as updates become available. While plugin updates sometimes offer new or improved features they are more often provided to fix known bugs and/or security issues.
You will know if a plugin update is available by seeing a red circle and a number next to your "plugins" menu item in your WordPress dashboard.
It is best practice prior to running any plugin updates to:
- First backup your website
- Run your plugin update
- Check each page and/or feature on your website
That way if your update "breaks something" which happens more often than you'd like then you have the opportunity to roll back to a saved version of your website prior to the update.
Much like adding antivirus software to your computer, it's crucial to harden your website against malware, viruses or hacking attempts. Services like Wordfence and Sucuri are a great start. They monitor the internet for new threats and then update your firewall and protect you against malicious IP addresses.
While much of this is automated you also need to ensure that manual tasks like regular updating of your password(s), manual monitoring and cleaning your site if it's been hacked are also taken care of.
It's great having a website, but when was the last time you checked that the world could actually see it? There's tonnes of reasons why a website might become unavailable.
- Your host is having technical difficulties (temporary or permanent)
- A plugin or something else has broken your site
- Your website has been hacked
- Or perhaps you just forgot to pay a hosting invoice.
If you're using your website as part of your business than it's prudent to check your website regularly. There's nothing worse than discovering your website has been down for the last two weeks!
Your WordPress database contains all your dynamic content (articles and all their revisions, product listings, comments, and more). It's easy for your database to grow over time but the larger the database the slower your website will run.
Regular database optimisation can include tasks like:
- Removing all but the latest revision of your blog articles (you're website is probably auto-saving copies every few minutes)
- Removing and dealing with all spam comments
- Removing other overhead in your database.
Can I do this myself?
Of course you can. You've got this! I know.
But here's a few questions that I want you to ask yourself.
- When I read everything above, did it sound like gobbledegook?
- Am I feeling a little apprehensive about "breaking" my website if I hand't all the maintenance myself?
- Do I have better things to do for my business than handle the website maintenance too?
If the answer was YES to any of those questions then perhaps you need to look at a WordPress Care Plan.
If the idea of having someone manage all your daily backups, check your uptime every 5mins 24/7, visit your website at least 3-4 times per week to check for updates and to clean up your database and to keep you in the loop the entire time then one of my WordPress Care Plans might be what you're after.